September 18, 1862: Sharpsburg, Maryland – This morning, both armies on the Antietam battlefield awake to find that yesterday’s battle did not determine a clear winner. The Union army wore down the Rebels, and have clearly put an end to Lee’s invasion, thus achieving a strategic victory. On the other hand, the Confederates did parry nearly every blow, and so therefore won a marginal tactical victory. No one was sure whether the battle was even over. McClellan telegraphed Washington that the chances for the battle continuing were good. But McClellan did not say that he thought his army is too exhausted to carry on the fight---even though he has 23,000 veteran troops in two corps (v AND vi) that did not fight at all, and another 12,000 that would arrive later this same day. Lee’s army remains in position, apparently in defiance of McClellan, and McClellan is willing to indulge the Rebels.
|Union assault near the Dunker Church|
My assessment: Had McClellan attacked with all of his troops, in a coordinated effort, Lee’s lines would have collapsed. Trapped against the Potomac, Lee would have had to surrender, thus bringing the war to an end after only a year and a half of war, instead of the four years it actually lasted.
|Dead Confederates on the Hagerstown Road|